CTE Nearly Ubiquitous Among NFL Retirees, Study Finds

HealthDay News — The latest data on traumatic brain injury shows that 87 of 91 deceased former National Football League (NFL) players tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE was identified in 96% of NFL players and in 79% of all football players studied, researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University told Frontline in an exclusive report Friday. In total, brain tissue from 165 people who played football in high school, college, semi-pro leagues, or in the NFL was examined after their deaths, according to Frontline.

Forty percent of the brains that tested positive for CTE were those from offensive and defensive linemen, according to the brain bank. But since CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously, many of the players who had donated their brains for testing suspected that they had the disease while still alive, so researchers were working with a skewed sample, Frontline reported.

The NFL said in a statement to Frontline: “We are dedicated to making football safer and continue to take steps to protect players, including rule changes, advanced sideline technology, and expanded medical resources. We continue to make significant investments in independent research through our gifts to Boston University, the National Institutes of Health, and other efforts to accelerate the science and understanding of these issues.”

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Correction: The article was updated to reflect that 40% of the brains that tested positive for CTE were from offensive and defensive lineman, not that 40% of linemen had CTE.